Collins optimistic over Radcliffe's 'good progress'

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The Independent Online

Dave Collins, UK Athletics' performance director, said yesterday that Paula Radcliffe would only be considered for the Olympic marathon if she was fully fit. Collins was, however, optimistic that the 34-year-old would line up in Beijing on 17 August.

In May, Radcliffe was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left thigh. She defied medical predictions that it would be impossible for her to compete by starting to run a number of weeks ago, after returning to her base in the Pyrenees.

Collins said Radcliffe's participation depended on more than just proving she could complete the Olympic course, but added he was encouraged by her decision to join the Team GB training camp in Macau today.

"It's confirmation for me that she's making good progress," he said. "You'll see in our selection criteria that we're way past the stage of medically checking someone and saying they're not going to damage themselves, so let them compete. We're now looking at competitive form and fitness, which is a standard that is applied across Team GB, to be able to see that someone who turns up is genuinely capable.

"I am more optimistic as time goes on. My crystal ball is, unfortunately, not working very well so I'll wait and see where we are, but as things positively progress, that's good news."

Radcliffe has won Commonwealth, European and world distance titles and three London marathons, as well as the New York marathon last November after a 21-month absence due to injury and the birth of her first child. Olympic gold has, however, eluded the marathon world record holder. Four years ago in Athens she broke down with a leg injury and a stomach complaint.

Collins said a joint decision would be made on Radcliffe's participation but would not say what would happen if she defied medical advice. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he said. "It's a team effort. There's a lot of people involved, coaches, medics. You sit down and say, 'Are you capable of doing yourself justice? If yes, you've earned the place, take it.'"